This series will cover the WNBA’s 21st season with at least one story on the league weekly from the season’s May 13 opening to its closing on September 3 and through the 2017 playoffs.
This is Taiheicheiaian Celestine-Lloyd’s second WNBA Finals appearance in as many seasons. As the series now moves to Los Angeles, she more than likely will be as close as her television set, watching the Lynx-Sparks rematch from home.
Some of the Lynx players may be playing not only for a league title, but also for the promise of getting some back-home Louisiana gumbo. “After the Finals, and after we win — and they are going to win — I plan on having everybody over” for some home-cooked gumbo, “some soul food from back home,” Celestine-Lloyd has promised Lynx teammates Sylvia Fowles and Seimone Augustus.
“Anytime we can get a good home-cooked meal, I’ll take it. But you got to know what you are doing when you make gumbo,” stated Augustus, who is from Louisiana, as is Celestine-Lloyd. Fowles, who’s from Miami, attended and played basketball at LSU with Augustus.
When Fowles and Augustus reunited as teammates with the Lynx, “I was super excited,” exclaimed Celestine-Lloyd. “Their energy and spirit and how they click [is] awesome.
“I’ve been following Sylvia since she came to LSU, and followed her the whole time” during her college career, Celestine-Lloyd said. “Every time she went overseas, I kept up with her stats and everything.”
She has followed Augustus since “all the way back when she was 14 years old. She was on [a] Sports Illustrated magazine… I had that magazine cover. However, that was all lost from Hurricane Katrina. All of my stuff was destroyed there.”
“I wish I had one. I would give it to her,” Augustus said of the lost SI copy. “We have a lot of Louisiana people from Katrina” who got displaced by the storm, the Baton Rouge, Louisiana native recalled. “That was a hard time. What do you tell people that have lost everything? There really isn’t anything you can say.
“It’s a tough situation, and you try to show as much support as you can,” said Augustus, “but I never have been in that situation where I lost everything and have to start over from scratch.”
“I do miss home,” continued Celestine-Lloyd. “I won’t move back, but I do miss the atmosphere there, the food and everything.” After she and her family relocated here, it took a couple of years to get fully settled.
“When I first came up, my mom was really sick. She was here with my sister. I was helping my sister getting her back and forth to appointments.” Then, a year after moving to Minnesota, her mother died, Celestine-Lloyd said.
She’s a longtime women’s basketball fan and a converted Lynx fan. “I loved the energy they had in the building. It was rocking,” Celestine-Lloyd said of last year’s five-game Finals. During the off-season, a team salesperson called her about buying season tickets. “I went ahead and jumped on board,” she said.
When Hurricane Harvey hit Texas last month, “It was heartbreaking to me to see that all over again,” said Celestine-Lloyd. “My brothers, who were in Hurricane Katrina with me, now live in Houston. It felt like déjà vu. One of my brothers has two small kids. They were trapped in their house for a couple of days before they were rescued.”
Celestine-Lloyd, like many Lynx fans, believes the Twin Cities’ winningest pro team is too often overlooked by the male-dominated mainstream media: “They should get more recognition… [as] a team that has brought to Minnesota three championships. And it’s going to be a fourth one.”
Charles Hallman welcomes reader responses to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Charles Hallman is a contributing reporter and award-winning sports columnist at the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder.